Educating nursing staff involves a whole lot more than simply holding an in-service every now and then. Clinical staff educators are responsible for organizing a diverse range of educational activities to meet the needs of a variety of caregivers, from new hires requiring orientation to current employees who must be kept up-to-date on the latest evidence-based practices. Tests must be administered and corrected, and results recorded. Then there are outside agencies (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Joint Commission, for starters) who want proof that your workforce has been thoroughly briefed on the issues they deem important.
“Without electronic support (learning management system), tracking and monitoring activities is nearly impossible,” wrote one staff educator, “and trying to produce records … is a nightmare.”
A learning management system (LMS) is an electronic platform for the modern delivery of educational content. Or, as one expert put it, an LMS is “the infrastructure that enables the learning to happen.”
The old days involved textbooks, test sheets, and piles and piles of paper records; the new involve a computer and Web access. Blackboard and Moodle are all popular LMSs you may have heard of—the latter of which is used by some 60% of hospitals in the United States today.
An LMS is the BFF of many a staff educator, handling much of the organization of educational content with ease. LMSs allow staff educators to provide lessons entirely online (or in concert with in-person sessions), giving staff members the opportunity to access the information at any place and at any time. The LMS administers tests, corrects answers, and records results. It tracks who accessed the lesson and when. It takes attendance and reports on no-shows for the lessons thus far. What’s more, it allows for easy reporting of educational activities required by outside agencies.
Some LMSs do more, including managing professional certification or providing a glimpse of the learning needs and activities of an entire hospital staff. The ins and outs of an LMS’ capabilities will depend on the system itself.
In short, the LMS shoulders much of the drudge-work of staff education, allowing the clinical staff educator to focus instead on activities requiring higher-level thought, such as choosing content, motivating learners, and planning for the future direction of staff education.
With the right LMS in house, clinical staff educators can shift their educational efforts into high gear, allowing hospital staff to soar to new levels.